Tuesday, 3 October 2023
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Outdoor dining areas – COVID-19 temporary exemptions

From Thursday 17 September 2020, food businesses will be allowed to open their outdoor dining areas to customers.

To assist food businesses to either start or expand their outdoor dining area to maximise the number of customers that are able to dine-in, Council has developed this guide to explain the temporary exemptions and support available.

Traders may be able to extend their dining areas to the footpath in front of their business and/or or neighbouring businesses.  Other scenarios including using your own car parking area within your property for outdoor dining may also be considered.

Every business’ needs will be different and some requirements will still need to be met to ensure the safety of all involved.   A Local Law permit will be issued as quickly as possible, once all safety matters and other requirements have been assessed.

Council will temporarily waiver the costs to start or expand your outdoor dining options.

Patron limits

Up to 50 outdoor seated patrons per venue, while following the ‘two square metre’ density limit.  Indoor venues can open with a cap of 10 seated customers per space – with up to two spaces per venue – and in line with the existing ‘four square metre’ density rule.

Tables must be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart, cleaned after every customer and the name and a contact number of all patrons must be documented.

How do I start the process?

Contact Council by emailing locallaws@swanhill.vic.gov.au or phone 5036 2346 and our outdoor dining staff will arrange a time to meet with you, review your site, discuss the options available to you and assist you with completing an application form.  We will work as quickly as possible to get you ready to welcome customers under the new regulations.


All traders must ensure that they hold and maintain throughout the duration of the permit, in the name of the trader, a policy of insurance to the minimum value of $20,000,000. The trader must provide proof of the insurance policy (i.e. a Certificate of Currency) to Council when applying for a permit.

The trader must also notify their insurance provider in writing if they are extending their outdoor dining area to the footpath in front of neighbouring businesses. Council also requires a copy of this notification.

Liquor Licensing

If you require a change to your liquor licence (red line area), a Planning Permit may be required, however you may also apply for a temporary licence through the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). Our planning staff will help you work through this as quickly as possible.

If you already have a liquor licence for your outdoor area and you are not proposing an extension, then you won’t need to amend your liquor licence and can operate as normal. If you extend your outdoor dining area and would like to serve alcohol in this area, you will need to amend your Planning Permit and/or liquor licence.

Our planning staff will be available to make this process as simple as possible. These applications may also need to be referred to Victoria Police and a separate application may also need to be made to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Business operators are reminded of their responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Under the Act the footpath must remain accessible for the safe use for all pedestrians.

Council’s Trading Code of Practice states that goods, tables, chairs and other items must not be placed against the building line. A clear walkway zone from the building line must be maintained.

Walkway zone requirements:

Footpath width: Walkway zone requirements:
2.5m – 3.5m Minimum 1.8m
3.5m or greater Minimum 2.0m (2.5m Heritage Areas)

Waste Management and cleanliness

Businesses are responsible for ensuring that outdoor dining areas are maintained in a clean and sanitary manner at all times.

All premises must manage waste generated by their customers in their own commercial bins. Council street litter bins are for the disposal of litter from the general public only.


Under the Tobacco Act 1987, smoking is not permitted within outdoor dining areas. Smoking will also be banned in outdoor drinking areas if any part of that area is within four meters of an outdoor dining area.

If you need advice on whether you able allow smoking in your outdoor drinking area, or would like no smoking signage, please contact the Public Health team on 5036 2591.

Trading Code of Practice

To access a copy of Council’s Trading Code of Practice please visit Council’s website https://www.swanhill.vic.gov.au/business/permits/footpath-trading/.

Further Information

For further information please contact Council’s Regulatory Services Department on 5036 2346 or email locallaws@swanhill.vic.gov.au

For further information on the COVID-19 Restrictions please visit the DHHS coronavirus website www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or Business Victoria website www.business.vic.gov.au.

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